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Missouri Mental Health Counselors Association (MMHCA)

Fifth Annual MMHCA Conference Offered Lively Sessions in a Beautiful Setting

Held Sept. 22–24 in the resort area of Lake of the Ozarks, MMHCA’s Fifth Annual Conference featured a number of excellent programs on the theme, “Collaboration: Working Together and Learning from Each Other.”

MMHCA President Marsha Andreoff kicked off the conference Thursday evening. AMHCA 2011–2012 President Gray Otis, PhD, LPC, CCMHC, delivered the conference opening address on, “Transformational Belief, A Fundamental Paradigm for Counselors.” 

“As the president of AMHCA,” Otis said later, “it was a real pleasure to meet with many outstanding professionals and to discuss a number of topics with them.”

Of special note, Missouri has a very active legislative affairs effort. MMHCA is moving forward to adopt updated educational standards that reflect the national trend of requiring the equivalent of 60 semester hours in a master’s degree for future licensing. 

Also of interest, the MMHCA graduate students are generating a real enthusiasm for bringing together students from all over the state in a number of initiatives. 

“The energy of the MMHCA conference was contagious and really demonstrates why this chapter was recognized at our San Francisco conference as truly outstanding,” said Otis, referring to the Missouri chapter being named winner of AMHCA’s 2010–2011 Outstanding State Chapter Award. 

Montana Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors Association (MLCPCA)

MLCPCA Prevails in Adoption of New Rules for LCPCs on Psychological Testing

The licensure board for Montana licensed professional counselors, the Board of Social Work Examiners and Professional Counselors, adopted new rules, effective Oct. 13, related to the qualification of professional counselors and social workers to perform psychological testing, evaluation, and assessment. The Montana chapter supported the news rules (RULE I through RULE XII), which the board adopted exactly as proposed.

Following the proposal of the rules back in April, a public hearing on the proposed rules was held in May, and the board summarized the comments it received, both for and against the new rules. 

AMHCA Past President Tom J. Ferro, LCPC, noted that “the detailed comments regarding the complaints from the psychologists, and the board’s responses to those complaints, give a good insight into the psychologists’ arguments against counselors doing psychological testing.”

Following are some of the comments the board received opposing adoption of the new rules, and the board’s responses.

COMMENT 4: The proposed rules do not provide a method to ensure competence to do psychological evaluations. 
RESPONSE 4: The board disagrees with this comment. The board researched other states’ and professional associations’ rules regarding competence to perform psychological assessments and based these rules on such research. The board advises that postgraduate education will often be required to obtain competence.

COMMENT 5: There have been complaints made regarding LCPCs/LCSWs performing psychological evaluations.
RESPONSE 5: The board was not aware of complaints involving its licensees performing such testing. However, the board will always consider such complaints on an individual case-by-case basis. 

COMMENT 7: The proposed rules are not consistent with the governor’s amendatory veto. 
RESPONSE 7: The board disagrees with this comment. The bill, as amended, required that the rules be consistent with national associations’ guidelines. The board received input from counseling and social work associations that indicated the proposed rules are consistent with the requirements. 

COMMENT 8: The psychological evaluation rules are not sufficient to ensure public protection. 
RESPONSE 8: The board acknowledges that it is impossible to monitor every psychological evaluation performed, but has determined that the proposed rules are the best method to guide licensees and protect the public. 

COMMENT 10: The proposed rules do not prescribe specific education and experience requirements, and additional training will be necessary to ensure licensee competence. 
RESPONSE 10: The board agrees that licensees could not ordinarily rely on their undergraduate or master’s-level survey courses in testing to demonstrate competence, but the board concluded that it is not appropriate to dictate a specific level of training due to the wide array of testing methods and instruments available. The proposed rules state the required level of understanding necessary to competently perform evaluations. Licensees must use that guidance to determine whether they have reached the requisite level of competence before performing evaluations. The board notes that each test and testing situation is different, and a licensee must assess his or her competence, based upon the specific circumstances of each case. 

COMMENT 12: The rules do not provide a means to evaluate whether a licensee is competent to perform psychological evaluations. 
RESPONSE 12: The board believes that the standards proposed in the rules are sufficient to put licensees on notice that they must be knowledgeable about the performance of psychological evaluations in general, and familiar with the use of each instrument in particular. Some evaluation methods specify unique standards for competence, and it would be impossible to cover all standards in specific rules. 

COMMENT 13: The board should not wait until a problem arises in the complaint/compliance process to review competence. 
RESPONSE 13: The board believes it should not attempt to preemptively specify the level of expertise required for each method of evaluation. Just as the board does not determine which clinical methods a therapist may be competent to use, it should not attempt to define one particular standard of competence for all evaluations. Each licensee must assess whether he or she is able to competently provide services and refrain from providing services where there is any doubt as to his or her ability to provide such services. Should a licensee fail to meet these proposed standards, the disciplinary process would compensate and protect the public. 

“We are very proud of our licensing board and our state organization for the fight that we put up to the psychologists’ arguments to the bitter end,” Ferro said. 

New York Mental Health Counselors Association (NYMHCA)

Plan Now to Attend NYMHCA’s April 2012 Convention

The theme for NYMHCA’s Biennial Convention, to be held April 20–22, 2012, in Albany, New York, is “Counseling for the 21st Century: Tools, Trends and Technology.” 

The keynote address by Susan Giurleo, PhD, on “Coping with Change—A Survival Guide to Integrating Technology into Clinical Practice,” will include ways to cope with the constant technological change, and how to adapt to these changes personally and professionally. She will also outline and discuss a model of integrating technology into clinical practice.

In addition, Giurleo will offer one of three, three-hour pre-convention workshops, with hers being, “Clinical Practice Plugged In: Ethical Online Business Strategies for Psychotherapists.” 

The other pre-convention workshops are, “Licensure 101—Everything You Need to Know to Be Licensed,” and “Seven Steps to Freedom in Private Practice.” A two-day workshop on Distance Credentialed Counselor Training (DCC) is also being offered. 

Other conference events include a Counselor Educators Networking Forum, a student event, and a panel on “Licensure and State of the Profession” made up of representatives from the NYS Office of Professions, the NYS Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), and Hinman–Straub Advisors.